Game number 56 for the Knights was their final meeting with the Northeast Generals in the 2017-18 regular season. A regulation win would provide a solid, five-point cushion for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton over the fourth place Generals, and leave the potential for the Knights to be tied for second place by Sunday’s end.
After an evenly-fought OT thriller on Saturday, both teams returned to the ice determined to clinch the weekend series Sunday. The Knights again found themselves shorthanded in the wake of injuries up and down their roster. For the second-straight night, they dressed just 17 skaters with only four being defensemen.
A fast-moving first period provided a nearly even exchange of chances for either side. The Knights tested David Fessenden, Friday’s winning goalie for Northeast, with 12 first period shots. He stopped them all. David Tomeo, in net for the second-straight game for the Knights, likewise denied his former team on all 14 shots sent his way.
The quiet first gave way to a busy second. After each team killed one penalty apiece in the opening 20 minutes, special teams dominated the middle frame. Just 14 seconds in, the Knights took a slashing penalty. The issue was further compounded when they were called for too many men on the ice with 34 seconds remaining on the initial penalty. Using the 5-on-3 to build momentum, the Generals would eventually cash in, when Matt Wiesner deflected a point shot from the returning Colin Bilek to the twine with just 33 seconds remaining on the second penalty. Louis Boudon collected the secondary assist on the score.
The Knights didn’t wait long to answer. On a 5-on-3 of their own, Curtis Carlson slid a puck over to Tom Farrell, who found an open Mike Morrissey on the back circle, where the assistant captain ripped a puck by a Jack Olmstead-screened Fessenden to even the score at one.
The afterglow didn’t have much time to sink in however, as before the second penalty expired, the Generals rained on the Knights parade. Following a shorthanded, offensive zone faceoff win, Justin Jallen found himself with space in front of Tomeo off slick feeds Colin McCabe and Brian Chambers. Jallen peppered a shot under the bar with such velocity that it utterly destroyed Tomeo’s water bottle. Perhaps motivated by vengeance, Tomeo locked down and elevated what was already a solid performance from that point on.
For their part, the Knights offense again rebounded swiftly. During a rare stretch of even play in the second, Jake Fuss flipped a bouncing puck to Tom Farrell on the right point. Farrell’s shot made its way into traffic in front of Fessenden, where Curtis Carlson found it and pushed it home to knot the game at 10:09.
For the remaining half of the period, both Fessenden (33 saves) and Tomeo answered building offensive chances with one strong save after another. At the end of 40 minutes, the contest was locked in a very even 2-2 score.
In the third, a failed power play followed up by a major penalty would doom Northeast. At 12:20 Reed Robinson would be boarded in neutral ice, sending the Knights to a 5:00 power play. Robinson would get his revenge three and a half minutes later, when Joey Verkerke’s point shot, set up by Mike Morrissey, split the penalty killers for the Generals. Gabe Temple and Robinson converged on Fessenden, with the latter finding and slamming it by the massive goalie for the Knights first lead.
Tyrone Bronte followed up Robinson’s goal with a key interception of the Generals last clearing effort on the major. As the Generals man stepped out of the penalty box, Bronte threaded the turnover to a crashing Jack Olmstead, who put the puck through the pads of Fessenden to jump ahead 4-2.
With time winding down, the Generals would empty their net to try and erase the two-goal deficit. The Knights aided the Northeast cause by committing what was deemed elbowing with 53 seconds to go. Northeast swarmed through the attacking zone for the remainder of regulation but were denied again and again in short succession by Tomeo. The ’99 netminder put a cap on the contest and his second-straight win with a highlight reel glove save at the horn. Tomeo’s 35 saves on 37 shots, gave him a 2-0 record on the weekend, with a sterling 70 saves on 73 shots, good for a .959 save percentage, and a 1.50 goal’s against average.
The Knights will conclude their home portion of the regular season next weekend with two meetings against the New Jersey Titans, the team currently tied with the Knights for second place in the East Division (pending this afternoon’s results in their game against the Johnstown Tomahawks). Stay tuned to www.wbsknights.com and Knights social media throughout the week for all news and team content!